Sleep With One Eye Open: Black Men Supervising Supervised Black Men

by Nadra Enzi

Studies indicate that intense supervision, i.e, visiting, communicaion and regular interaction with offenders on bond, probation or parole is the most effective way to control crime among known violators.

The supervisory role found in bail bonding, probation (public and private) and parole formed the insperation for my Community Supervisor (CS) initiative. Informally I have counseled and assisted brothers under state supervison for years. What I've found is they need decision support so that they will not re-offend. This support is not serving as neither an apologist nor an antagonist.

The CS role is to coach and monitor the subject's progress or lack thereof. As a concerned citizen and community member, it is in the Community Supervisor's best interests to help produce rehabilitated people.

As a security consultant specializing in urban entertainment and ad hoc community supervision, I've run into more than my fair share of folks who decided that the behavior that once jailed them is the only kind possible. Instead of constantly butting heads with supervisee's, it seems logical to establish a non-confrontational dialogue with more receptive ones.

Black men not under state supervision can play a "security" role in the lives of those under state supervision. This "security" role consists of establishing relationships and providing advice that steers supervisees away from trouble. For those of us in the supervised status, the best "security" provided are interactions that reinforce making the right choices. The mantra of x-number of Black men going to jail and prison can be interrupted by our efforts. We can either continue as community competitors, with non-supervised brothers ignoring or on guard against supervised brothers or partnerships can form.

If the often repeated statistic that one out of every four Black men is under some form of state supervison is true, then there are three out of four Black men in charge of their lives. Three out of four, or 75%, creates a pool from which potential community supervisors can be drawn. These men should make overtures to judges, correctional departments and social service agencies who deal with the affected population. While some will undoubtedly refuse the offer, the honest among them will welcome the helping hand.

Apologizing in advance for the political incorrectness of the following, I feel Black men are best assisted by other Black men. Today's African-Americans face the challenge to make life enhancing choices more so than past generations. Becoming a convicted felon before you can even vote or having children while barely able to shave are not life enhancing choices.

Racism cannot totally explain self-destructive decision making. If an individual Black man is experiencing a decision making deficit, then better decision makers from his peer group need to make contact. Unlike yesteryear's failed social engineering, community supervision has the central premise that some supervised Black men can make better choices.

Black men must step to this tailormade challenge and in so doing make an epic statement to the community and nation that we can save ourselves instead of waiting for others to do so. Black crime, like any other, is stopped one life at a time.

Sleep With One Eye Open: Black Men Supervising Supervised Black Men by Nadra Enzi

© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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